The Best Musical Movie Moments Of 2022

Even in the early days of silent film, movies had music. Live performers or recordings would fill the air during those early motion pictures, and when synchronized dialogue finally came to the movies, the music came with it. Movies could supply their own soundtracks, and filmmakers began injecting their films with dance numbers, popular songs, and unforgettable new compositions to underscore the drama, play up the comedy, or make the audience leap out of their seats in terror.

While there aren't as many musical movies in theaters as there used to be, everybody still loves a great musical number. The films of 2022 featured incredible music and dance numbers that made us laugh and cry, that inspired us, made us pensive, or just plain made us sad.

These are the musical numbers that will stick with us long after the calendar year is over, whether they were in a musical or not.

Turning Red

It's been a rather good year for feature film animation, and "Turning Red" is one of the highlights. A delightful coming of age story, the film stars Rosalie Chiang as Mei, a young teenager with an overbearing mother, voiced by Sandra Oh. Also, Mei transforms into a giant red panda whenever she gets emotional, and since she's an adolescent, it happens a lot.

The way Domee Shi's film illustrates the foibles of puberty via a literal, magical transformation is pretty fun, but even beyond its allegory the film is impressively specific about Mei's inner world and outside interests. One of those interests is a boy band called 4*Town, who put on a pretty great climactic show in "Turning Red," only to have their act interrupted by Mei's mother tearing apart the arena, having turned into a giant red panda herself.

The film's loving homage to turn of the century boy bands, and the use of the fictional band's signature song, "Nobody Like U," as an anthem for all the characters to rally together at the end, is both a little dorky and totally awesome.

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

It's been an odd transitional year for Marvel Studios, as its films attempted to expand the boundaries of the lucrative fictional universe while also exploring their characters' unsettling inner turmoil. Mileage certainly does seem to vary on whether "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is an ambitious and emotional story or an underdeveloped and unconvincing one, but at least it's directed by Sam Raimi, who gives it some directorial panache and no small amount of weirdness.

In one of the film's most imaginative moments, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) confronts an alternate reality version of himself who has taken a much darker path. And while the audience has probably seen plenty of "wizard duels" in their day, in films like "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and most of the "Wizarding World" movies, we've never seen one nearly as musical as we get in "Multiverse of Madness."

Doctor Strange, attacked by this villainous version of himself, is evenly matched and has to get creative. Knocked into a piano and sending sheet music flying, Strange plucks the very notes off of the scattered pages and blasts his opponent with the physical manifestation of music, which the evil Strange recomposes into something more ominous. For once, magic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems genuinely odd and hard to comprehend, and it's all the more magical a place for it.

Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio

The film we call "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio" is far and away the best "Pinocchio" movie of 2022, and there have been rather a lot of them. Directed by the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Pacific Rim," and co-directed by veteran animator Mark Gustafson (whose name should really be in the title too, if you think about it), "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio" takes the familiar tale of a wooden boy trying to become human in different directions than audiences are probably used to. Reconnecting with the social commentary of the original "Pinocchio" stories, and without the saccharine platitudes of the Disney version(s), this stop-motion animated film is a much darker story on many levels -- not the least of which is the way del Toro and Gustafson's "Pinocchio" incorporates Italian fascism directly into its narrative. 

In a subplot reminiscent of "Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge," the hero of Pinocchio decides to use his celebrity and stage time to make a political statement, or at least infuriate his manipulative boss. Instead of performing a patriotic and uplifting puppet show for their powerful guest, Benito Mussolini, Pinocchio opts to perform a satirical routine about poop. He mimes pooping in a helmet, and even though he had almost no prep time for this bit of improv, he also dances with a full-size anthropomorphic poop puppet.

An unexpectedly absurd yet meaningful act of rebellion. Hurray for poop!

After Yang

Kogonada's contemplative sci-fi drama "After Yang" tells the story of a family whose son, a sophisticated robot named Yang (Justin H. Min), breaks down. Repairing Yang is trickier than Jake (Colin Farrell) thought, and soon he finds himself in possession of recordings Yang took of his experiences, a library of memories he chose to keep for himself, and realizing that his "son" was more real than anyone realized.

But before all the heady conversations about memory and self-aware artificial intelligences, "After Yang" has to introduce the family at the core of the story. And the film does that with a synchronized dancing competition. In the near future it turns out one of the most popular pastimes is an online game where tens of thousands of families all over the world compete, and we watch our protagonists perform wonderfully choreographed dance routines -- to visualize their close dynamic, sure, but also because it's really, weirdly fun, and something we might actually like to do in real life.

The Bob's Burgers Movie

Fans of the "Bob's Burgers" TV series know that one of the show's many strengths is its clever, catchy, and unexpectedly emotional original songs. And while this year's "The Bob's Burgers Movie" isn't as much as a musical as a comedy with a few musical numbers in it, they're all very memorable ditties.

But the biggest showstopper of them all is, ironically, the very first. A sprawling musical feast that introduces the characters and their subplots, while rallying around a wholesome generalized belief that their lives are getting better, the song "Sunny Side Up Summer" is a blast of catchy positivity that is then immediately exploded when everything goes wrong. The dreams of getting a new loan for the restaurant are dashed, a sinkhole opens up outside the front doors, and every single member of the Belcher family has to re-examine their life and plans for the future.


What do you get when you stick a historical epic, a serial killer movie, a hair metal rock opera, a supernatural fable into a blender? You'd get "Inu-Oh," a remarkably distinctive and exciting anime film from director Masaaki Yuasa ("Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!") about a blind musician who teams up with a dancer suffering from a demonic curse, and form a new form of rock music that tells stories that were forbidden by decree after a civil war.

Their performances are increasingly elaborate, and although they culminate in an incredible display of physical and spiritual transcendence, the best number is the performance of a song about war and a whale (there sure were a lot of whale-centric movies this year, weren't there?). Using imaginative stagecraft to create modern visual effects using techniques available to the characters at this stage in history, the song "The Whale" is an absolute rocker, with a spectacular wail from the singer and percussion to die for.

Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers

In this extremely clever contemporary riff on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," Chip and Dale -- the stars of Disney's popular "Rescue Rangers" TV series -- are real people who just happen to be animated. Their hit show now years behind them, they struggle to move on with their lives: Chip, by abandoning the entertainment industry, and Dale, by embracing his persona as a famous has-been.

When their old pal Monterey Jack gets kidnapped, an apparent pawn in a conspiracy to kidnap cartoons and force them to star in cheap knock-off movies, Chip (John Mulaney) and Dale (Andy Samberg) are forced to assume the roles they played in their show and investigate the mystery. And in the film's funniest scene this means they are forced to improvise a rap song, just like cartoon characters sometimes do in movies. They just happen to be really bad at it, and they soon get stuck rapping about eating whales, for reasons that baffle even the two of them.


Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis" is a spectacular musical epic, one that portrays Elvis Presley's life as a gigantic tragedy as well as an endless pageant. The financial abuse he suffers from his lifelong manager, Colonel Tom Parker (played by Tom Hanks) runs counter to the anarchic spirit of Presley (Austin Butler).

In a moment that probably didn't seem so portentous at the time, in the middle of a televised Christmas special, Elvis Presley decides to eschew the cornball sentimentality the Colonel thinks will bring him financial security, and instead do what an honest to goodness rock star would do. Presley takes the opportunity to totally belt out an impassioned protest song, reminding his audience about his cultural relevance and pissing off the show's sponsors, who just wanted something wholesome and light.

Austin Butler gives a great performance as Elvis Presley, but the quickened pace of Luhrmann's biopic rarely gives him a sequence to make into a proper meal. This is one of the scenes where Butler gets to completely devour the movie and prove he has the chops to play the King.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

According to the musical comedy "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story," there was no greater musician in all of history than (checks notes) "Weird" Al Yankovic. Daniel Radcliffe stars as the best-selling parody songwriter in "Weird," which tells a familiar rags to riches rock-and-roll biopic story and gets a lot of mileage out of how historically inaccurate and melodramatic it is because — in case you hadn't noticed — this is "Weird" Al we're talking about.

In the film's most memorable scene, Al has been invited to a pool party right out of the movie "Boogie Nights," except instead of a soiree full of porn stars, it's a birthday party with quirky outsider acts like Tiny Tim, Gallagher, and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Al Yankovic is young and starry-eyed, but legend of his talent is growing, which leads legendary DJ Wolfman Jack (Jack Black) to challenge the prodigy to concoct a clever parody of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" on the spot! And it just so happens that Queen bassist John Deacon is there too, played by David Dastmalchian.

At first ... get this ... it looks like "Weird" Al can't do it! It's too much to ask of any musician to amusingly alter the lyrics of a song off the top of their head! But then ... get this ... he does it! Holy cow, he turned "Another One Bites the Dust" into "Another One Rides the Bus!" He truly is the greatest musician who ever lived.


Ti West made a big splash at the beginning of 2022 with the throwback slasher "X," about a 1970s adult film crew running afoul of a homicidal elderly woman named Pearl when they try to film at her farmhouse. The film starred Mia Goth as the sex worker Maxine Minx and also as Pearl herself, under significant makeup. In the film's biggest surprise we discovered after the credits that a prequel had already been filmed, and was coming out later this same year.

"Pearl" once again stars Goth, who in the 1910s dreams of leaving her repressive home life and becoming a star. Starved for attention in all its forms, she fantasizes about an opportunity to audition for a traveling troupe that needs new dancers, and after doing everything in her power to take her own life into her hands — terrifying and homicidal things — she finally gets her chance to perform for the judges. And the danged thing is, she's pretty great.

It turns out that Pearl, who fantasizes that her performance is comically elaborate, has some talent and genuine charisma, and the judges seem to recognize it. They just happen to be looking for someone blonde instead. Poor Pearl. Er, kinda.


Cate Blanchett gives a virtuosic performance as the title character in Todd Field's epic character drama, as a world-renowned conductor whose sins are gradually coming back to haunt her. She's a larger-than-life person because she thinks she's larger than life, and that just about any behavior can be overlooked if she's talented enough.

"Tár" features a symphony of memorable musical moments, whether it's her subtle way of corrupting auditions when she's supposed to remain as objective as possible, or her emotional breakdown with an accordion, belting angry music as her way of giving the middle finger to her landlords.

But the best moment of all is the very conclusion of the film, and we don't want to give it completely away. Suffice it to say that after everything she's been through, Lydia Tár has one more performance to give, and what it is speaks volumes about how her character defects have affected her career after all.


One of the great cinematic entertainments of 2022, S. S. Rajamouli's "RRR" stars N. T. Rama Rao Jr. as Komaram Bheem and Ram Charan as Alluri Sitarama Raju, two real-life revolutionaries who were not — in real life — best friends who danced at weddings together and fought epic battles because of melodramatic misunderstandings. But in this movie they are, and it's awesome.

"RRR" has plenty of musical moments but none are as absolutely joyous as "Naatu Naatu," the number they perform at a wedding, to the chagrin of condescending colonialists and to the elation of everyone else. With elaborate choreography that will make everyone want to run out and buy some suspenders, they win over the crowd and finally turn on each other in a dancing endurance test which ends in a heartwarming sacrifice.

Catchy, impressive, exciting, "Naatu Naatu" manages to stop the show while pushing the characters forward. It couldn't be beat in 2022.

Read this next: The Best Movies Of 2022 So Far

The post The Best Musical Movie Moments of 2022 appeared first on /Film.

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